The article, Facing Poverty with a Rich Girls Habits, was written by Suki Kim and published in the New York Times on November 21, 2004. She talks about her life experiences especially after her family moved from her home country to America due to bankruptcy. Her most important point is about the effect of class and race to one’s life with a bias on the effect of race and class discrimination. After her father lost all his wealth, she became a victim of both class and racial discrimination. She had to endure the pain of moving from a luxurious life style to a very poor neighborhood due to the drastic change of her father’s financial status. For instance, she had to forget about the professional assistants she had, being chauffer driven to school as well as the luxurious and classy environment that she had during her childhood. She had to get used to using public means to school and attending the rather low class public schools in their new neighborhood. She notes that “At 13, I took public transportation to school for the first time instead of being driven by a chauffeur” (2004, para 3). Additionally, she had to endure race-based discrimination due to the fact that she was a Korean girl schooling in an American school.
Another theme that has been brought out in the article is that people are usually not concerned about the evils in the society unless they become the victims. She admits that she only had the term ‘Asian’ in her social studies class but now she had to deal with the reality of racial discrimination (2004, para. 4). The other point in the article is that immigration comes with a change of culture and that people should be prepared to learn and appreciate the diversity of cultures. For instance, in Korean schools, it was mandatory for students to bow to teachers and behave well while in school which was not the case in the American schools (2004, para. 4). She also asserts that class discrimination is also exhibited among the immigrants, even those from the same race (Miller, 2007, p. 66). Another point is her ability to battle poverty in her efforts to be educated and successful.
The writer’s purpose in her short story (genre) was to bring out the challenges faced by immigrants within the American community and encourage others. Such challenges include race- and class-based discrimination, culture shock and poverty (Miller, 2007, p 70). Her audience is the less privileged in the society who feel may feel discouraged due to the challenges they face in life especially the young ladies from the minority groups in the U.S. One can also say that the audience is anyone who reads her story as it educates the public about some of the challenges faced by immigrants in the U.S. (Odera, 2010, p. 102). Her tone is calm since regardless of the challenges she faced, she can still use her example to encourage others who might be going through a similar experience. Additionally, she does not portray any form of bitterness in all her experiences (McCaig, 2002, p. 48).
The story depicts the strong will of the girl. She was able to cope with the aspects that were caused by the bankruptcy of her family that forced them to move from Korea to America. This not only includes living in poverty but also battling with racial and class-based discrimination in America. She does not give up an aspect that made her to not only appreciate the culture of the Americans but also adopt some of its elements such as ear piercing.
McCaig, J. (2002). Reading In: Alice Munro’s Archives. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier
Miller, S. A. (2007). Growing Girls: The Natural Origins of Girl’s Organizations in America.
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Odera, L. (2010). New Americans: Recent Immigration and American Society-Acculturation,
Coping Strategies and Mental Health. El Paso, TX: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC.